Dear Janice, my wife of ten years is leaving me. Recently she took me out for dinner and at the end of our meal, confessed that during lockdown she was chatting via TikTok to an old school friend and now they are ‘in love’. I was completely gobsmacked as I didn’t have the slightest inkling that anything was wrong in our marriage. Yes, I could probably have done more about the house, and taken her out more often (we were in lockdown), but I thought she was as happy as I was. Obviously NOT! 

We have a daughter and the thought of them both being out of my life is incomprehensible. I suggested Marriage Guidance but she flippantly smirked and said it would be a waste of our time and money. My happy and content world has completely turned upside down. How can I convince her to give our marriage another chance? Jack.

Dear Jack, unfortunately at this stage, no amount of pleading or coercing will change your wife’s mind. Agonising as it is, you need to accept that she sees this idealistic and romantic new love as her future.

Your priority and focus is to secure regular time with your daughter, who will need continuity and security in her life as she too will be coping with the breakup of her parents, and adjusting to the dynamics of her new life.

Jack remember, your wife has ‘fallen in love’ with a guy through TikTok who she has barely spent time with, and I wouldn’t be surprised given time, that her TikTok lover turns out to be a major disappointment.

Perhaps she will come back with her tail between her legs if this social media relationship goes belly up, but by then you will be a much stronger person who will be more than capable of telling her to TikTok off.

Dear Janice, one of my friends is continually on the scrounge for money. It’s always a ‘wee fiver’ here and there, and because it isn’t a huge amount, I don’t feel I can keep nagging her for it back. But when I think about it, I’ve probably given her a fair bit of cash, which she never pays back. She’s always waiting on her benefits and a ‘wee fiver’; as she puts it, is to get essentials till her money is due. I don’t want to see her kids go short, so I give her the money because I feel bad if I don’t. My other friends say I’m a mug for dishing out my cash like this, but I don’t want to fall out with her. How can I pluck up the courage to just say no? Gemma.

Dear Gemma, if you haven’t found the guts to say no by now, you probably won’t ever. An ex-colleague used to borrow a ‘wee pound’ every now and then from me, and because it was only a pound, I was too embarrassed to keep asking her for it back, so I let her off with it.

But I eventually got smart. From then on I never had a ‘wee pound’ when she asked, instead I handed her a twenty-pound note so that the next day, I didn’t think twice in asking for my twenty back.

It worked, and she soon moved on to someone else. Your friend is playing the same game.

Next time, say you’ve only got a twenty-pound note and she can have it, but that it is money you need too. Ask for it back a couple of times and if she makes excuses, then yes, you’ve lost £20, but you will have no problem in refusing her in the future. It’ll be money well spent.

If she falls out with you, look on it as an absolute bonus.

Dear Janice, I need an opinion on a matter which is causing me a lot of stress. After losing my long term partner five years ago, I met a lovely man who lost his wife about the same time.

In general, everything is fantastic except for one thing. As my elderly mother stays with me, I spend the occasional night at his. Trouble is, his home is like a shrine to his wife. Every single room has a picture of her in it. There is even one in the bathroom!

It’s not easy cosying up to him when everywhere I turn she is staring at us. How do I approach this without upsetting him? Audrey.

Dear Audrey, delicately. Responses to bereavement vary greatly, so there are no rules here. You cannot judge this situation by your own emotions. The fact that you don’t ‘feel the need’ to be surrounded by pictures of your late partner has no relevance on his desire for visible memories of his wife. There is no right and wrong way in this situation, only one which you can both agree on.

Tell him that’s it’s wonderful that you both have treasured memories of your loved ones, but you feel a little overwhelmed in his home with his wife’s pictures everywhere. Ask if he could at least remove her pictures from the bedroom you share.

Start small, and take it from there. Given time I’m sure he will adjust. Remember, his wife is a memory. You are who he is with in the present.

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